Aside from trying to win every remaining start, Travis Wood has plenty to play for the rest of this season.
The Cubs’ left-hander encountered a few stumbling blocks Monday on the way to a 4-3 loss to the Marlins but stayed on course to reach the 200-inning mark for the first time in his promising career.
“It would be a big goal achieved for me, especially being in the bigs from start to finish and getting over that mark,” Wood said after reaching the 179-inning mark with perhaps as many as five starts remaining.
Wood and Jeff Samardzija (183) both are on pace to surpass 200 innings for the first time and give the Cubs hope for the future in their rotation.
“If you get to 200 innings, you’ve had a pretty good year and did what you’re supposed to do — to get deeper in games all the time, to help bullpens out and all that,” manager Dale Sveum said. “He’s had a pretty quality year all the way around.”
Wood (8-11, 3.17 ERA), 26, pitched 202 2/3 innings in 2010, but he split time virtually evenly between Triple-A Louisville and the Reds. He managed to pitch seven innings Monday despite allowing a home run to Christian Yelich in the first and a three-run homer to opposing pitcher Henderson Alvarez in the second.
“It was a funny outing,” Sveum said. “He couldn’t get their left-handed hitter (Yelich) or their pitcher (Alvarez) out.
“Other than that, he dominated.”
Wood said he didn’t overlook Alvarez, who allowed four hits to start the game but managed to keep the Cubs scoreless after the first until he left in the seventh because of a tight right hamstring.
“I saw (Henderson’s) batting average (.368), and I knew he’d be swinging,” Wood said. “I just missed with a pitch, and he did what he needed to do with it.”
That was enough against a Cubs lineup that didn’t advance a runner to second base after Ryan Sweeney led off the fourth with a double but was left stranded. The Cubs grounded into three double plays and managed just two hits after Sweeney’s double.
Sweeney and Dioner Navarro, potential free agents who are each auditioning for spots on the Cubs’ 2014 roster, combined for four of the team’s eight hits.
“There are a lot of guys playing for their careers, including myself,” Navarro said. “I’m trying to take advantage of every opportunity I get. We’re a young team and trying to rebuild, if that’s what we want to call it.”